Royal Liverpool Golf Club has an important collection of golf memorabilia, and a proactive policy of tracking down. acquiring and curating artefacts that will enhance the story it tells.
Occasionally, however, a happy accident brings to light a piece of golf history long hidden from public view.
While locating a much more mundane document, Royal Liverpool’s Secretary, Simon Newland, came across a letter written by a man inextricably linked to Hoylake.
“We were disposing of a vehicle owned by the Club,” Simon explains, “and that meant finding the registration documents that went with it, like the V5 certificate, and the quest took me to paperwork stored in the safe.
“One typewritten page stood out amongst the others, and it clearly had not been sent to us by DVLA. Closer inspection revealed it to be from the legendary Robert T. Jones, a note of thanks he had sent from the USA in 1969 in reply to Royal Liverpool’s Captain, John Lawrie.”
Royal Liverpool’s members had chosen to celebrate the man who won the Open at Hoylake in 1930. It was 1969, the Club's centenary, and Bobby Jones was given Honorary Membership, for which he expressed his gratitude. That Open victory, of course, was one part of his extraordinary Grand Slam, followed not long afterwards by his retirement from the game at the age of just 28.
But in this Walker Cup year the second paragraph is interesting. He writes: “You may be interested to know that it was at Hoylake that I first played in England.”
This refers to 1921 when a teenaged Bobby Jones came to Wirral to play in the Amateur championship, and was a member of the Great Britain vs. USA match that immediately preceded it. This was the ‘prototype’ for the Walker Cup, competed for properly the following year at the National Golf Links of America.
Says Simon: “It’s a small piece of golfing history, but refers to a seed that blossomed into something very special, a great Match that will be staged here on September 7 and 8 - and is certainly much more interesting than a V5 certificate.”